Tunstall senior guard Evan Huffman made a quick cut down the lane late in the fourth quarter, slid to his right and finished with an acrobatic reverse layup as he was fouled, spinning the ball high off the glass with his right hand.
Huffman converted his free throw to give Tunstall a 17-point lead with 3:03 remaining, adding the perfect exclamation point to a dominant second half for the Trojans.
Tunstall (6-9, 3-2) outscored Bassett 44-30 in the second half to turn a five-point halftime lead into a 65-47 Piedmont District victory Tuesday in Bassett. The Trojans shot 63 percent in the final 16 minutes and forced 18 turnovers. Tunstall forced a total of 30 in the game.
“I was pleased with the defense more so in the second half, and I thought we did a much better job of not fouling as much,” Tunstall head coach Julius Price said. “Playing solid defense and crashing the boards like we did there in the second half led to some easier transition baskets. We tried to force their guards to their weak hand but we did a much better job of rotating off the double team.”
Huffman was active with his hands in the third quarter, picking up a few steals to go with three assists to help kickstart the Trojans’ offense. The senior finished with 16 points, four rebounds, six assists and four steals. Sophomore guard Matt Pyrtle complemented Huffman in the backcourt by scoring a game-high 17 points to go with five rebounds and four steals.
“We basically came out wanting to focus on playing good defense. I felt our defense helped us execute better on offense in the second half,” Huffman said. “Our high perimeter press is something we’ve been working hard on. I felt I did a much better job at facilitating things too tonight and that helped open up some more space for me individually as well. I thought we spread things out and worked the ball like we needed to.”
Tunstall used a 10-2 run in a span of 1:45 midway through the third quarter to push its lead to 13 — its largest lead to that point. Pyrtle converted a four-point play during the run, getting fouled after knocking down a 3-pointer.
A few minutes later, the Bengals (2-13, 0-4) got within double digits for the last time in the contest. The Trojans would expand their lead to as much as 20 in the fourth quarter.
“We’re a team that must do almost everything right if we want to win. We didn’t do a great job of protecting the basketball and it showed in the second half,” Bassett coach Jarrell Jones said. “I applaud my guys’ effort, I thought Eliot Hairston off the bench who scored eight big points added quality minutes. I look forward to the future, but I still want us to fight every night.”
Bassett had three more field goal attempts (21) in the second half than it had turnovers (18).
However, as sloppy as the Bengals played in the first half, hitting just 36 percent of their shots combined with 12 turnovers, they trailed by only five points.
Tunstall was able to close the first quarter on a 9-2 run to take a four-point lead. It pushed the lead to as many as seven at 19-12, but after a scrappy finish to the half, Bassett only trailed 21-16, despite the teams combining to shoot 16-for-51.
“We felt good at the half and adjusted well. We’re just down on numbers and exerted a lot of energy early just to stay close,” Jones said. “We just ran out of gas. We counter punched as best we could, they just had an answer for every shot we took at them.”
Price said he felt fortunate to be ahead after the first half.
“We missed a lot of easy opportunities in the first half. We left some points out there,” Price said. “We needed a win like this with Magna Vista coming to our place Friday and them playing well at the moment. Hopefully, we can put together another good game on Friday.”
Devontae Wimbush lead Bassett with 13 points — its lone scorer in double figures.
The Bengals are off till 7 p.m. next Tuesday when they head to Magna Vista for the return of the Smith River rivalry.
Tunstall 65, Bassett 47
Tunstall 12 9 22 22 — 65
Bassett 8 8 14 17 — 47
THS (6-9, 3-2): Matt Pyrtle, 17; Evan Huffman, 16, Dustin Kuczinski, 9; Veshawn Parrish, 6; Teaun Carter, 6; Caleb Under, 6; Damien Wilson, 5.
BHS (2-13, 0-4): Devontae Wimbush, 13; Da’Shaun Valentine, 9; Justin Jones, 9; Eliot Hairston, 8; Devontae Jordan, 4; Travis Koger, 4.